Dugan Aylen, head of franchisee recruitment and co-owner of The Franchising Centre, looks back on the advancements in this evolving space.
Interview by Kieran McLoone, deputy editor for Global Franchise
KM: What have been some of the main developments in franchisee recruitment over the almost 20 years you’ve been involved in the industry?
DA: When I first started in 2002, there was no such thing as the use of the internet for franchising. There may have been some franchisor websites, but that was it. You got leads from three different places: exhibitions, magazine clippings that are either posted or faxed or through the telephone. Nowadays, of course, 99 per cent of leads are received digitally.
That’s why it’s so crazy to me when you see franchisors today that are using spreadsheets to manage their leads; they’ve been made redundant by the many CRM systems that are out there.
“I see the death of email coming”
The internet is the big, main development in that period, but it’s such a huge thing that there are many facets within that, like how leads are created and delivered.
KM: How significant would you say social media has been in advancing franchisee acquisition?
DA: If the question is whether social media is a large lead generator, then the answer is no. But I would say that there are exceptions.
When we start to work with a new franchisor client, we always look at their social media foundations. What are they using? Are they posting regularly? Most franchisors use social media in a customer-facing environment.
There’s a small percentage of followers on a client’s social media who fall into the cross-section of customers who may also become franchisees, so we encourage them to drop posts into their feeds highlighting that this is a business that entrepreneurs can invest in.
KM: What are franchisors missing out on when it comes to recruitment?
DA: One of the biggest reasons that some franchisors are stuck in the past comes down to the franchise fee. It’s absolutely critical in ensuring that the franchisor covers the cost of recruitment, and should cover things like digital marketing and personnel.
Franchise fees are set too low, and that means that franchisors can’t run effective strategies because they don’t have the budget. No franchisor should make a loss recruiting franchisees, but they shouldn’t make a huge profit either. The whole process should be reinvested into marketing, personnel, and systems.
KM: What’s a big change in franchise recruitment that’s coming in the next decade?
DA: I see the death of email coming. Not this year or next, but soon, I predict that we won’t use email in the way that we’ve come to know.
The substitute will be a newer, safer, more private way of communicating. It will be like email, but you’ll need to opt-in to receive a message from someone. That will kill companies that are reliant on email marketing, so the people that can adapt quickly will be the winners.